213 F.3d 795 (4th Cir. 2000), 99-1860, E E O C v. Roman Catholic Diocese Raleigh

Docket Nº:99-1860 (CA-98-978-5-H).
Citation:213 F.3d 795
Party Name:EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA; SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:May 22, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 795

213 F.3d 795 (4th Cir. 2000)

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA; SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 99-1860 (CA-98-978-5-H).

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

May 22, 2000

Argued: April 7, 2000.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Raleigh.

Malcolm J. Howard, District Judge.

Page 796

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 797

COUNSEL ARGUED: Robert John Gregory, Senior Attorney, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Washington, D.C., for Appellant. Cecil Webster Harrison, Jr., POYNER and SPRUILL, L.L.P., Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: C. Gregory Stewart, General Counsel, Philip B. Sklover, Associate General Counsel, Lorraine C. Davis, Assistant General Counsel, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Washington, D.C., for Appellant. Robin Tatum Morris, POYNER and SPRUILL, L.L.P., Raleigh, North Carolina; Charles F. Powers, III, SINK, POWERS, SINK and POTTER, L.L.P., Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellees.

Before WILKINSON, Chief Judge, NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge, and HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge.

Affirmed by published opinion. Chief Judge Wilkinson wrote the opinion, in which Judge Niemeyer and Senior Judge Hamilton joined.

OPINION

WILKINSON, Chief Judge:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought an enforcement action under Title VII against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Sacred Heart Cathedral. The EEOC alleged that the church discriminated against Joyce Austin on the basis of her sex through a series of adverse employment actions relating to her positions as the Cathedral's Director of Music Ministry and a part-time music teacher at the Cathedral elementary school. The district court dismissed the action as barred by the First Amendment, holding that the well-recognized ministerial exception to Title VII prohibited the application of the statute to the employment decisions at issue. See EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, 48 F.Supp.2d 505 (E.D.N.C. 1999). Because Austin's primary duties at the Cathedral and its school consisted of the selection, presentation, and teaching of music, which is integral to the spiritual and pastoral mission of the Catholic Church and many other religious traditions, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

I.

Joyce Austin was hired by Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1983 to be Director of the Cathedral Folk Choir. Austin is a practicing

Page 798

lay Roman Catholic. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Morningside College in Iowa and a Master of Arts degree in humanities from Hofstra University in New York. She also has vocal and instrumental teaching certificates from the states of New York and North Carolina. Sacred Heart Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church and a constituent part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, which governs the Roman Catholic churches in Eastern North Carolina.

In 1984, Austin began to teach music at the Cathedral elementary school. Her duties as a music teacher included conducting the music program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, overseeing two extracurricular musical performances each year, assisting in the music preparation for school liturgies, and playing the piano at Mass. In addition, she was responsible for the school choir and the school handbell choir. Her job also required her to serve as a resource person for all musical activities at the school.

In 1990, Father G. L. Lewis, the Rector of the Cathedral at the time, promoted Austin to the newly created position of Director of Music Ministry. This position encompassed both responsibility for music at the Cathedral and teaching music at the Cathedral school. The proposed job description provided that the Director would be, along with the Rector, fully responsible for the Music Ministry of the Cathedral. It stated that the major duties of the position included: "[t]o assist in the planning of all Parish Liturgies; to direct the parish choirs; to teach the congregation to actively and vocally participate in the music of the Parish; to recruit and train cantors." Austin's actual duties were then summarized in a handwritten document agreed to by her and Father Lewis. This document, like the proposed job description, assigned responsibility to Austin for the music program of the Cathedral and the Cathedral school. Among the duties listed were: teaching at the school; supervising and directing choirs; training cantors; and playing for holidays, weddings, and funerals. Austin was also required to approve music for weddings even if she was not available for the ceremonies. She was also made part of the Worship Committee and was required to attend the committee's monthly meetings and participate in seasonal liturgy planning.

In May 1992, Father John Francis O'Connor became Rector of the Cathedral. Austin claims that between September 1992 and February 1995, Father O'Connor reassigned some of Austin's duties to men, two of whom were not Catholic. In February 1995, Austin filed a sex discrimination charge with the EEOC based on the reassignment of these duties to men.

A 1995 parish survey revealed general dissatisfaction with the music program, and the parishioners voiced the need for improvement in the Cathedral's music ministry. On June 2, 1995, Father O'Connor informed Austin that the Director of Music Ministry position was being redesigned and that she would no longer serve in the position as of June 30, 1995. Upon her removal, Austin filed a second charge with the EEOC, alleging that she was terminated because of her sex and in retaliation for her prior charge. Austin continued, however, to serve as a part-time music teacher at the elementary school.

The Cathedral advertised the redesigned music ministry position, which was the full-time position of Director of Music Ministries and Organist. Austin applied for this position, along with forty-two other applicants. The Search Committee reviewed the applications and recommended that Paul Monachino be hired. Father O'Connor ultimately hired Monachino for the position. The church states that Monachino, like Austin, is a practicing Catholic. According to the EEOC, Harry Taylor, a non-Catholic male who assumed Austin's duties in the interim period, was made head of the spiritual choir under Monachino's supervision.

The Cathedral adopted a job description for the Director of Music Ministries and Organist position, who would be "responsible for all music associated with worship"

Page 799

and directly accountable to the Rector. The job description underscored the relationship of music to the spiritual mission of the church. For example, the qualifications for this "liturgical minister" included not only musical experience and skill, but also "an ability to teach, to lead, and to evoke active participation of the people in all liturgical celebrations with their varied and differing musical styles." Underlying all the qualifications was the need for "a thorough understanding of and love for the Liturgy of the Church and the relationship of music to the liturgical life of the Church." The job description also listed two plainly spiritual objectives for the new Director: (1) "To assist in developing a prayerful, singing assembly through preparation, celebration, and evaluation, through education and personal ministry;" and (2)"With the cooperation and assistance of all the parish ministers, the Director of Music Ministries will support the Gospel message through song and challenge the assembly to live it more fully." The Director was to carry out these religious objectives through specific duties such as: recruiting and training parish choirs, cantors, and musicians; implementing new repertoire for the assembly; communicating musical selections to each presider; preparing a weekly worship plan in conjunction with the Parish Liturgy Committee; and incorporating handbells into the work of the choirs.

The EEOC claims that the job description for the new Director's position was quite similar to that for Austin's old Director's position. Further, it states that the new job was defined in practice no differently from the role formerly occupied by Austin. According to the EEOC, the parish priest planned the liturgies, chose the scripture readings without input from Austin, and had the authority to make final decisions concerning the music to be used for religious worship. The EEOC also asserts that despite the written requirement that the new Director be a practicing Catholic, Father O'Connor stated that the position did not have to be filled by a Catholic.

In February 1996, Austin filed a third charge of discrimination and retaliation, challenging the church's decision not to hire her for the new Director's position. In the spring of 1997, Austin was demoted from a "regular part-time" teacher at the school to a "part-time" teacher. According to Austin, she lost sick day and personal day benefits, as well as a tuition reduction for her children at the elementary school, as a result of this decision. In September 1997, Austin filed a fourth EEOC charge, alleging that she was demoted in retaliation for her previous charges.

In December 1998, the EEOC filed suit on Austin's behalf against the Diocese and the Cathedral in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The EEOC asserted claims of sex discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. These claims encompassed the adverse employment actions about which Austin had complained in her EEOC charges.

The EEOC requested that Austin be awarded compensatory and punitive damages and sought costs for itself. The EEOC also requested far-ranging injunctive relief. It sought a permanent injunction prohibiting the church...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP
93 practice notes
  • Fassl v. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, 100405 PAEDC, 05-cv-0404
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • October 4, 2005
    ...applies to the federal cause of action, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh , 213 F.3d 795, 800 (4th Cir. 2000) (affirming dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) based on ministerial exception where the plaintiff served as director of musi......
  • 911 A.2d 319 (Conn.App. 2006), 27108, Rweyemamu v. Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
    • United States
    • Connecticut Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • December 12, 2006
    ...664] F.3d 461– 63].’’ (Citation omitted.) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, 213 F.3d 795, 800 n.* (4th Cir. 2000). In light of the distinctions made between religious practice and religious belief in the federal courts, we conclude......
  • 339 F.Supp.2d 689 (W.D.Pa. 2004), C. A. 03-1851, Patsakis v. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit
    • October 6, 2004
    ...Alicea-Hernandez, 320 F.3d at 704 (Hispanic communications manager deemed a minister); EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, 213 F.3d 795, 805 (4th Cir. 2000) (music director deemed a minister). However, "the exception does not apply to the religious employees of secular employers......
  • 28 A.3d 1171 (Md. 2011), 66-2009, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church v. Linklater
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 21, 2011
    ...precludes any inquiry whatsoever into the reasons behind a church's ministerial employment decision." EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese, 213 F.3d 795, 801 (4th Cir.2000). A trial on the merits of the claims asserted in Counts XIV and XV would necessarily involve an inquiry into matters of......
  • Free signup to view additional results
84 cases
  • Fassl v. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, 100405 PAEDC, 05-cv-0404
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • October 4, 2005
    ...applies to the federal cause of action, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh , 213 F.3d 795, 800 (4th Cir. 2000) (affirming dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) based on ministerial exception where the plaintiff served as director of musi......
  • 911 A.2d 319 (Conn.App. 2006), 27108, Rweyemamu v. Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
    • United States
    • Connecticut Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • December 12, 2006
    ...664] F.3d 461– 63].’’ (Citation omitted.) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, 213 F.3d 795, 800 n.* (4th Cir. 2000). In light of the distinctions made between religious practice and religious belief in the federal courts, we conclude......
  • 339 F.Supp.2d 689 (W.D.Pa. 2004), C. A. 03-1851, Patsakis v. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit
    • October 6, 2004
    ...Alicea-Hernandez, 320 F.3d at 704 (Hispanic communications manager deemed a minister); EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, 213 F.3d 795, 805 (4th Cir. 2000) (music director deemed a minister). However, "the exception does not apply to the religious employees of secular employers......
  • 28 A.3d 1171 (Md. 2011), 66-2009, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church v. Linklater
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 21, 2011
    ...precludes any inquiry whatsoever into the reasons behind a church's ministerial employment decision." EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese, 213 F.3d 795, 801 (4th Cir.2000). A trial on the merits of the claims asserted in Counts XIV and XV would necessarily involve an inquiry into matters of......
  • Free signup to view additional results
9 books & journal articles
  • Hosanna-Tabor and the ministerial exception.
    • United States
    • Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. 35 Nbr. 3, June 2012
    • June 22, 2012
    ...v. Gannon Univ., 462 F.3d 294, 303-07 (3d Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 550 U.S. 903 (2007); EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, 213 F.3d 795, 800-05 (4th Cir. 2000); Combs v. Cent. Tex. Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, 173 F.3d 343, 347-50 (5th Cir. 1999); Hollins v. Me......
  • RLUIPA at four: evaluating the success and constitutionality of RLUIPA'S prisoner provisions.
    • United States
    • Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. 28 Nbr. 2, March 2005
    • March 22, 2005
    ...avoid violating First Amendment). (324.) Amos, 483 U.S. at 336. (325). Id. at 334. (326.) See, e.g., E.E.O.C. v. Roman Catholic Diocese, 213 F.3d 795 (4th Cir. 2000) (holding that the "ministerial exception" doctrine does not completely exempt hiring decisions of all employees (e.......
  • Should the ministerial exception apply to functions, not persons?
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 122 Nbr. 7, May 2013
    • May 1, 2013
    ...Title VII: The Case for a Deferential Primary Duties Test, 121 HARV. L. REV. 1776 (2008). (15.) EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, 213 F.3d 795, 801 (4th Cir. 2000) (quoting Rayburn, 772 F.2d at 1168) (emphasis added). (16.) E.g., Starkman v. Evans, 198 F.3d 173, 176 (5th Cir. 1999)......
  • PRIVATE SCHOOLS' ROLE AND RIGHTS IN SETTING VACCINATION POLICY: A CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY PUZZLE.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 61 Nbr. 6, May 2020
    • May 1, 2020
    ...Bryce v. Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Colo., 289 F.3d 648, 655-57 (10th Cir. 2002); EEOC v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, 213 F.3d 795, 800-01 (4th Cir. 2000); Gellington v. Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc., 203 F.3d 1299, 1301-04 (11th Cir. 2000); Combs v. Cent. Tex. A......
  • Free signup to view additional results